cover image Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (480p) ISBN 978-0-374-29862-3

In this rollicking posthumous memoir, composer and writer Rodgers (1931–2014) revisits the highs and lows of her life and career. Enriched with droll commentary from Green, chief theater critic for the New York Times, Rodgers’s narrative takes readers from her affluent yet stifling childhood—as the daughter of American composer Richard Rodgers and a mother whose “idea of a daughter,” Rodgers writes, “was a chambermaid crossed with a lapdog”—to her years of wild success in the ’50s and ’60s on Broadway and beyond. While her challenging relationship with her mother runs as a constant thread throughout, Rodgers looks back, more fondly, on her six pregnancies (“I loved being pregnant.... More than I loved writing music, if I’m honest”) and her accomplishments, including her first musical, Once Upon a Mattress (1959), starring Carol Burnett—“If you don’t know who Carol Burnett... is,” hectors Green, “you’re definitely not reading this book”—and her 1972 runaway hit novel, Freaky Friday. Of the decades-long success of Once Upon a Mattress, Rodgers cheekily proclaims, “Some people have a medley of their hits; I have a medley of one.” It’s this playful, self-deprecating humor that makes Rodgers’s stories sing, and fans are sure to delight in every witty detail. This has major star power. (Aug.)